RCPCH responds to Northern Ireland HPV extension

Boys aged 12-13 in Northern Ireland are to be offered a vaccine to protect them against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) related cancers, the Department of Health has announced. RCPCH responds.

In Northern Ireland, from September this year the HPV vaccine will be offered to all boys in year nine at school.

The vaccination programme was first introduced for women in 2008 and has seen a very high proportion of women under 25 take up the opportunity to be vaccinated against HPV. The prevalence of the main HPV cancer-causing types 16 and 18 has already been reduced by over 80%, the Department for Health reports.

Extending the programme provides an opportunity to make some HPV-related diseases and cancers a thing of the past, by building on the success of the programme in girls, with the intention to protect boys through similar uptake rates.

Responding to the news, Dr Rory Sweeney of the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health’s Health Improvement committee, said:

The introduction of the HPV vaccine to 12-13 year old boys as well as girls is hugely positive for child health in Northern Ireland. The vaccine will protect boys against HPV infections that can lead to cancers of the mouth and throat, penis and anus. 

The HPV vaccination for girls has already seen a dramatic reduction in HPV infections, and it’s good to see Northern Ireland come into line with the rest of the UK by rolling it out to boys.